(en) Report on Nigeria

Keith Standrin (itusc@gn.apc.org)
Thu, 17 Apr 1997 11:37:59 GMT


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At its April meeting, the International Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC) Committee, received a delegation from the National Democratic Coalition of Nigeria (NADECO), who presented the following report. The ITUSC has maintained a long and active interest in the struggles of the Nigerian workers and toilers, mainly through the Campaign for Independent Unionism in Nigeria. The ITUSC Committee decided to liaise with the London office of NADECO on the precise nature of the assistance the ITUSC could give. This report is posted here in the interests of disseminating information and the appeal for help and recipients are invited to consider whether they might 'Fwd.' it and what assistance they might muster in response to the appeal at the conclusion of the report.

THE NIGERIAN CASE FOR DEMOCRACY

The Nigerian State is presently presided over by the military usurpers assisted by civil ruling cliques, both parties in their pre-class state, in rabid pursuit of the primitive accumulation of wealth. The ruling circle readily adopted the World Bank's Structural Adjustment Programme, but modified it to suit what they perceive to be their best interest in their bid for the pursuit of wealth accumulation but noticeably without responsibility or recourse to care for social welfare, health, education, shelter, environment or even laying the infrastructure for self-sustained growth in production or, societal/polity development.

Their latest assault against the democratic process started with the abortion of the presidential election, jailing the president-elect, orchestrating trumped-up charges of sedition and treasonable felony against independent minded officers and human rights activists so as to incarcerate these categories of people. They have continued on this path by arresting some independent minded, ruling class oriented civilians, constantly putting populist movements/forces under siege, obliterated trade union rights and crippled the university teachers union through arrests, beatings and other forms of harassment and torture.

The International Labour Organisation at its last plenary session passed resolutions decrying the Nigerian state's removal of trade union practice by decree. For example, when the teachers made demands for the improvement of facilities, the regime banned all protests and removed all the elected union leaders replacing them with military appointed acolytes and apologists. They constantly harass leaders and members of civil liberty groups, human rights organisations and constitutional democratic groupings by the imprisonment (always without trial) of the activists under a decree (Decree 2) which could not be challenged in a court of law.

The regime has been irrefutably implicated in state sponsored assassination attempts on the lives of leaders and activists, application of state terrorism to carry out arson, bombing and looting of properties and assets of suspected members of the opposition. Other suspected opposition financiers, defenders, fighters and leaders of the democratic movement have been abducted, murdered without trace or recourse to justice for their family.

These same attackers of the democratic process and its activists are now busily orchestrating a "return to democracy" which will be a permanent hegemony of the corporatist state by military usurpers and their clique of civilian surrogates where possible, or a situation where the soldiers run for office with the support of the armed forces albeit after "becoming a civilian" even during the election period, to satisfy the constitution. This chicanery and sleight of hand arrangement is what these current bunch of adventurists term "transition to democracy" which they want the West to support.

During this current flawed 'transition', most of the articulate, historical, popular and progressive leaders of whichever political hue across the broad political spectrum, that seem radical or progressive, have been placed in detention, house arrest, under strict surveillance or hounded enough to escape abroad to exile, to prevent being 'disappeared'.

At the last European Union session concerned with human rights, resolutions were passed suggesting sanctions against the Nigerian military dictatorship regime. The one with the best probability of breaching the solidity of the corporatists or achieving any real impact, is the one that would promote the refusal to pay the regime the much-awaited (for sharing among themselves) earnings from petroleum.

These earnings should be embargoed and placed in an escrow account for access, utilisation and eventual disbursement according to Nigerian law by a future democratic government. Since this approach will disrupt the most consuming passion for their presiding over the state (i.e. looting the treasury to accumulate personal wealth), this strategy would lead to disarray among their ranks and eventual disengagement from civil governance, more so if the leaders of popular organisations combat the corporatists with mass civil disobedience and passive demonstrations. The looters' current monopoly of arms would make them impervious to real negotiations and they would not hesitate to shoot live bullets on any demonstrations they do not like, as they have done in the past in the 1993 campaign. The junta's monopoly of arms can be disrupted by an intense campaign against the continue supply from the West of spare parts for these arms to keep these parasites in office, whose sole aim is the looting of state resources but who are pretending to govern.

Incidentally, all social services, productive activities and public systems have been ground down to a state of inertia. There is, therefor, no better time for uniting the policies, objectives and strategies of the grassroots and the democratic leadership of Nigeria with that of our trade union brothers and sisters as well as their organisations, to help publicise and make known on the international scene the level of socio-economic and political regression currently taking place in Nigeria. We call for your assistance, as much as you can give, to help in the struggle for the survival of the people. Our friends on the international scene should please campaign for the adoption by other organisations, political parties, pressure groups and their individual government to follow the European Union lead and ensure that these laudable resolutions (no matter how weak) are implemented.

We now have a chance to support a combined effort by the toiling Nigerian people and their leaders backed by international champions of democracy, to harmonise the assault on these brigands and their infamous supporters to ensure that their imposition of the dictatorial corporatists over the Nigerian state is a failure. __________________________________________________________________________ International Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC) at:- PO Box 18, Epsom, Britain KT18 7YR Tel/Fax: ++44 (0) 1372 817778 e-mail: itusc@gn.apc.org URL: http://www.itusc.org.uk The ITUSC is an international and internationalist association of organised workers and communities, dedicated to rebuilding the workers' movement and to overcoming sectarianism and division in working class organisations. ____________________________________________________________________________

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